I’m a big fan of the foot. It’s my favorite body part in regard to it’s brilliant design and function. The whole body coordinates as a harmonious system and your feet are no exception. They are your foundation and they have amazing potential! The more muscular support (over a hundred muscles, ligaments, tendons) and joint mobility (33 joints!) in your feet, the more they contribute to the work distribution throughout your whole body. One perspective from some movement sciences (biomechanics for example) is to think of it like a work place — If Joe Worker (your feet) isn’t pulling his weight and doing his job, his co-workers (rest of your body/joints) are going to have to pick up the slack. If he is doing his job, all the other workers get to do their job without being overworked, burned out and strained. Ya dig?
Your feet are smart! Physiotherapist, Joanne Elphinston refers to “The Listening Foot” in her book, Stability, Sport and Performance Movement, stating, “The sole of your foot is sensitive for a good reason: it is constantly sending information into your central nervous system so that you can instantly and unconsciously adjust your body’s alignment.”
In a series of videos I make which I call, Movement Hacks, I share ways I work movement into my day to day life. In this video I share some things I do to enhance the function of my feet…. (video should appear here, if not, try reloading page.)
Here is the video of Dr. Andreo Spina’s intrinsic foot strengthening that I mentioned in the movement hack video. I give this out as homework to all my clients.
Many movement experts agree that the function of the foot is important. To what degree and the approach depends on who you ask.
“…remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground”
God to Moses – Exodus 3:5
I enjoy moving outside, feeling and breathing the air, hearing the sounds of birds, looking up at the expansive blue sky, trees, grass, flowers, any little critters that cross my path. It’s a full sensory experience that nourishes my body, mind, soul and spirit. When I can, I free my feet from shoes and explore, move and play barefoot. Something about walking around with my skin connecting to the earth feels sacred to me. I feel connected to Something Bigger than myself.
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Henry David Thoreau
The photo above with that beautiful turquoise water and me on the rocks was in Cancun, Mexico, 2012. I spent quite a bit of time climbing around on those rocks. I spent most of that vacation barefoot, actually. It felt good, not just on my feet, but in the rest of my body. When I came home, I was craving walking on rocks. (As you can see I have a fondness for frolicking on them.) I wanted to recreate some of the surfaces I enjoy walking on in nature in my backyard.
Here is a video showing a little play area I created for myself so my feet and body could get their fix.
Like I mentioned, depending on who you ask, the approach to caring for the feet varies. I don’t necessarily think, nor am I suggesting it has to be done scurrying around on rocks sans shoes like I do. This is just what is instinctual and feels right for me personally. I don’t do this because I think I have to, I do it because I want to, I enjoy it. In everything, learn what works best for you and serves you well. If this does strike your fancy, as mentioned in the video, there are things you may need to do before you just jump into this.
If you decide to try playing barefoot, do so mindfully, carefully and wisely. I have been rockin’ this no shoe thing for a loooong time so my feet are used to it. I still work to enhance my movement potential in my feet and whole body. And, my living much of the time barefoot has not been without injury! I once dropped a Padlock on my big toe breaking it and hobbling around for several weeks. Ouchy! So, proceed safely. Be aware of your environment. If you are new to this, be patient, work the prerequisites and really listen to your body.
Whatever you do, shoes, no shoes, inside, outside — May your movement allow you to thrive, connect, breathe, explore, be free, be joyful, be fully you.
For inspiration, check out these clips of barefoot explorers and movers that inspire me:
- Erwan Le Corre, MovNat.
- Stephen Jepson, Never Leave the Playground
- And these two amazing moms!! Really, check this and this out!